Exclusive Interview with Jane the Virgin’s Jaime Camil

Photo: The CW Network
Photo: The CW Network

With several award nominations (and a Golden Globes win for star Gina Rodriguez for Best Actress), it’s safe to say Jane the Virgin is crushing it on the CW Network.  Halfway through with its second season, fans are anxious to hear news for the third season.  While we may not have that confirmation yet, Talk Nerdy With Us was fortunate enough to get to talk with one of the co-stars on Jane the Virgin.  Jaime Camil is well-known for playing on sitcoms in Mexico, and it didn’t take long for him to become well-known here in the U.S. as the fan-favorite Rogelio de la Vega, Jane’s loving (though self-absorbed) father on CW’s Jane the Virgin.  He was kind enough to take the time to chat with us about the show, which you can read below.

Let’s talk first about how you got involved with Jane the Virgin. I know you’ve done a lot of comedies, so I’m sure you saw a lot of scripts during pilot season that year. What made you choose this one in particular?

To be honest, I was very privileged two years ago during pilot season because I got offered three direct offers to do pilots. One was for a special appearance of “Marcos,” and there was a project for ABC, and then this beautiful, beautiful, creative script came to my hands which was Jane the Virgin.  I was like “oh my god,” and I just read it and loved it; it was amazing.  You remember the pilot, I believe my character speaks five words…


So, I didn’t even know where the character was going, to be honest.  But I found the script so captivating and so brilliantly written that I was like, “I want to be a part of this show.”  Then I had a Skype conference with Jennie Urman and she was kind enough to lay out the character, where the character was going so it made, even more, sense.  The script captivated me and it was so creative, the turn of events were so fast paced that I just loved it. We went for it and thank god I chose wisely.

Of course! And those Golden Globe nominations and everything…

Yeah, that was cool. We were very happy about that. Gina won [Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy] and we were nominated. We didn’t win as a show, but we were nominated in three categories. It’s been two years in a row now that they have nominated us for Critics’ Choice, and me for Best Supporting, Gina for Best Actress, and the show and we haven’t won, which is bad.

Yeah… but you know, that just means Jane needs a season three to get another chance at it.

There you go, good way of looking at it.

Let’s talk about Rogelio a little bit…

[laughs] Oh we can never just talk a little bit about Rogelio. We always have to talk a lot about Rogelio.

You’re right, it should be a lot; I’m all for that! He’s loved by audiences for his sort of… sincere self-absorption. Do you ever read a script for him and think “this is going to be too far,” or “if I say this, the audience is going to hate him”?

I’m really lucky because Jennie Urman and her amazing writers they write very well-balanced material for my character. Even though we live in this eccentric, crazy Jane universe every single act for not only Rogelio but Jane, Xiomara, Rafael, all of us, we come from a very honest and sincere place. We are not there just to try to make people laugh or just behave like clowns all the time. We really try and we do our best to do very heavy, not in a bad way, but a very heavy character.

The characters, they have a purpose and they have a meaning for their existence, and I think that’s the clue for every single character on Jane – not only for Rogelio – that they are very well-balanced. Imagine if Rogelio would be the clown who throws the pie in your face and then he throws another pie and another pie, by the sixth pie you would be like “Dude, okay, funny ha-ha, what else do you have to offer?” I think I have to, the credit goes to Jennie and her amazing team of writers because they do these beautiful scenes for Rogelio. He’s touched because Jane saw her dad for the first time… but then you [still] have Rogelio saying something absurd like: “I want my daughter to have the pleasure of knowing me.”

Right! And you’re just like… “wait, what?”

“What did he just say??” You have only two options: you slap him or you hug him. For some reason – all the reasons that I haven’t been able to understand yet – people decide to hug and not slap him so it works, you know?

It certainly does. How did you prepare for this type of character? Obviously, you don’t seem like you’re anything like Rogelio in regards to his character’s dramatics, so how do you jump into that character?

Well, I am originally from Mexico City where the telenovella genre is a way of living, practically. I’ve never done novellas though; I’ve done way more films, and the TV projects I’ve done in Mexico and Latin America are more sitcom-style. But I know the culture and genre very well, and I have a lot of good friends that are very renowned novella actors. I kind of know how to… pay homage, in a way, to the telenovella genre and the melodramatic way of acting.

In the second episode, I don’t know if you remember that Rogelio was doing a scene [on his telenovella] when a leopard gets loose, and [for that scene], I said to myself: “I’m just going to go for it.” I love to do physical comedy, so I decided, “I’m going to jump from the boat and go for it.” The worst thing that can happen is they’re going to tell you: “you know what dude, bring it down, don’t go that far.” But they allowed me to play with physical comedy, and I loved it; that is where Rogelio really was born. You could go over the top with Rogelio, but we have great directors, and Jennie Urman is always there to keep us grounded. They gave me the character to play, and they have an amazing instinct to know when it’s too much or when it’s too little, you know?

Did that make you nervous at all to accept a role where they kind of make fun of how that’s done?

Well, no because we do it with a lot of respect. I mean, we are very honored and very sincere. For instance, when we have a fan blowing our hair, we embrace it; the fan is there for a reason. The fan is not there for us to pretend we’re getting blown away in order to make it funny and look like clowns. No, the fan is there because the fan is a very important element of the telenovela world. So if we’re going to use a fan, we’re going to use it with love and respect, being very serious and very honest about it. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but the telenovella is like… when you see a pirate and the pirate has beautiful hair and beautiful makeup, the symbols of the pirate, and he kind of has a little bit of mud on his left cheek because he’s supposed to be a pirate, but also good-looking or whatever. That’s the novela. That’s what we are, and you have to approach that with a lot of respect and a lot of honesty. Because if you approach that in a slapstick, comedic way, if we act like we know we are doing something that is ridiculous or we’re going to rub it in your face how ridiculous it is, then that is when you’re being disrespectful… if that makes any sense.

No, it does; I get it.  So, now let’s talk about Rogelio and Xiomara, one of our fan-favorite couples. Rogelio’s been having a little bit of a rough time. He lost his job, and just when you think he’s turning it around, he tries to propose to Xiomara and she turns him down. Let’s talk about that a little bit and can you tell us about where they’re going to go from there?

Well, Xiomara is blind because she doesn’t know what she’s turning down. [laughs] I’m joking.  This is Jamie Urman writing.  If you didn’t have a conflict every turn of a page, then it wouldn’t be a Jamie Urman project, and that’s what makes it amazing.  Jane the Virgin is a show that if you’re watching the show and you decide to go for a glass of water or take a bathroom break, when you return to the show you have missed a big chunk of the story.  You are like, “what the hell is happening?” I think that fast pace is what keeps the audience glued to the TV like, “what will happen next?”  And whenever you think that everybody is in a good place and happy and full of love, boom! Turn of events, everything’s bad.  And I think that’s brilliant; Jamie is just a master at doing that.  So yeah, you know, Xiomara now is in a good professional place and Rogelio, as you know, is a family man and he loves his family and he wants kids and whatever.  

We got to see Rogelio a little bit with Mateo, but what do you think he would be like with his own baby?

I think he would be an amazing dad. The only reason he wasn’t a dad [the first time] was because Xiomara kept Jane a secret for 20-something years. But to be honest, he was doing a great job taking care of Mateo, aside from the fact that he allowed him to swallow a diamond… but that’s just a minor detail.

[laughs] Yeah, I guess it happens. Now, I understand you have kids? So… would you let Rogelio watch your children?

I have to admit, I don’t think I would ever in my life allow him to come near my children. [laughs] I don’t know. My wife and I, we love our kids. Elena’s four years old and my son Jaime is one-year-old. We love being parents; we just adore it. I love to get dirty, and change diapers; I will wake up with my wife in the middle of the night. I just love parenting, so… I could be a very good advisor to Rogelio.

Do you all live in Los Angeles now, since you started filming JtV?

Now we live in Los Angeles; we used to live in Mexico. The past eight years we went on and off in Los Angeles, but we’ve been staying here for one or two years now. But we’ve been coming and going, you know, we come and we go. We’ve had a place here, but I was always working in Mexico and I was so busy doing films and my sit-com that it was difficult to commit. I always wanted to commit and I’d try to say “I’m not going to move; I’m not going to move for two years,” then boom, a project in Mexico. You have a family to support, you have kids back to feed. So you go and you work, right?

Of course. I can imagine it must have been hard to keep going back and forth.

We are very blessed with all these opportunities. Well, first of all, we’re happy and blessed that we have met some actors in Los Angeles. Then on top of that, we are in a show that people love that tells such beautiful stories. We couldn’t be happier.

Where were you when you found our Jane was renewed for a second season?

Oh my God. That was the Golden Globes. We were getting ready for the Golden Globes and they’re like ‘oh, by the way, you have a second season.’ I’m like ‘guys, okay, amazing. Great news, but now I’m more nervous that I originally was.”

That’s an awesome place and time to find out!

It was fun. We’re happy about that and we’re just hoping for the third season to be a reality; we’ll see what happens.

Well, I hope so. I know we definitely enjoy watching it. Let’s talk about you a little. When you’re not filming, what do you do? Do you watch TV or any specific movies?

I loved watching Sons of Anarchy.  I love Grey’s Anatomy.  But I have to say we are very hands-on parents, so… I haven’t been to the movies in five years, basically.  Impossible, it’s so much work.  I wish my wife and I could go without the kids or that we could binge watch like the old times, but [as parents], you can’t anymore; you have a lot on your hands.  Kids are very demanding; you really have to be there for them, educating and taking care of them.  So, it’s impossible, I don’t have time.  But I love that show, Heroes.  I think it came back; I saw it on the iTunes store.  I was such a big fan of that show that I can’t wait to download the new episodes and see what’s happening with the new generation of heroes.

Maybe you’ll just have to sneak away to watch it. But you guys sound like you’re very much into the family stuff more so than anything else, which is so great; I’m sure the kids appreciate that.

Oh yeah.

Our site is “Talk Nerdy With Us,” so we like to wrap up interviews by asking, what is it that makes you nerdy? Or, is there anything that – when the topic comes up – you geek out and probably know more about it than anyone else in the room?

Something I know a lot about? Oh, I love motorcycles! I’m a very enthusiastic motorcycle rider. So… yeah, I know a lot about motorcycles. I’m also kind of nerdy when it comes to, you know, whatever I’m doing now. Like if there’s something new in my life, a new hobby or whatever, I just get really into it. I’ll jump on Wikipedia and other web pages to research information. I [look for] different points of view – good and bad – and I just research, and research, and research until I know everything there is to know about whatever new thing that I might be interested in.

Hey, that’s dedication!  Well, really appreciate your time, and thank you for talking to us about Jane the Virgin. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a Season 3!

Thank you, honestly and sincerely, thank you being so kind and for being so supportive of our show.

Watch Jane the Virgin on Mondays at 9/8p.m. CST on The CW.

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